How Money Has Changed Society
*Works Cited Not Included
Marshall McLuhan's lasting contribution is his vision of the ways technology affects and changes history and culture. McLuhan proposes that technologies are not mere add-ons to who and what humans are but, rather, alter them as though the technologies really are extensions of humans. Technology determines culture and history to the extent that it "shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action." The introduction of money affected culture in that this new technology gave rise to accelerated change and growth within society.
Money increases the volume and diversity of trade and it facilitates the exchange of goods and ideas. It also provides a means of showing who gives and who takes to and from society. Money is an extension of mankind's ability to give, receive, and exchange. McLuhan claims that all media are extensions of man, and subsequently, money extends the human faculty of giving and taking work. McLuhan states in Understanding Media:
Money, which had been for centuries the principle transmitter and exchange of information, is now having its function increasingly transferred to science and automation. (142)
Moreover, money makes possible many other enterprises and technologies. The invention of money changed society and caused change. For example, seventeenth century Japan was affected by this new technology. It caused a slow revolution, the breakdown of the feudal government, and a revival of foreign trade. McLuhan also emphasizes in Understanding Media:
Like any other medium, it is a staple, a natural resource. As an outward and visible form of the urge to change and to exchange, it is a corporate image, depending on society for its institutional status. (133)
McLuhan implies that money is a chief item in society, but depends on the members to define it. Giving value to an object creates money. A person then takes on the role of tracking the exchanges of the object, or issuing notes or tokens that are accepted by the community.
Pythagoras introduced coinage into Southern Italy around 500 B.C. In his time, one of the prominent questions thinkers were asking was "What are things made of?" Some said
fire, some said water, or earth, air, or some combination thereof. Pythagoras was one of the first to introduce the idea that it is not so much what things are made of, but that their form is important. The particular type of form he was interested in was mathematical. It is fitting that he introduced money that abstracts worth into a value and provides a common unit of measurement. In its abstraction of worth into numeric value, it habituates humans into dealing with numbers and, more generally, promotes the...